“People in the affected areas still need help with their injuries, especially those in isolated areas who we are only just beginning to reach, and we will continue working until they receive help,” says Dr Julie Hall, WHO Representative in the Philippines. “But we’re also beginning to put a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and the gap in normal health care that was created by the storm. For example, people with diabetes or tuberculosis need access to their medications, and pregnant women need a safe place to give birth.”
There are currently 22 international medical teams operating in the Philippines in 3 regions, each with a Philippine medical liaison. Another 12 teams are either under or awaiting deployment. In addition, there are 31 national teams who are also working across the affected area.
Of the 22 operational teams, 17 are so-called Type 1, specializing in outpatient and emergency care. Five are Type 2, with an operating theatre and able to perform caesarean sections.
As currently-deployed teams return home or as the health care priorities of the people evolve, the teams currently standing by will be deployed.
“At this point in the operation, it becomes extremely important to coordinate the vast and generous outpouring of foreign assistance,” said Dr Hall. “We must ensure that the right kind of assistance gets to the right people and in accordance with their real and most urgent needs.”
Philippine Secretary of Health Dr Enrique Ona visited the affected area on 15 November, and the next day briefed foreign providers of medical assistance at his office in Manila.
“I am amazed at your response to what has happened in this region of the Philippines,” Dr Ona said. “There are not enough words to express my own personal appreciation for this tremendous support that we are receiving.”
Dr Hall reported on how impressed the foreign medical teams have been by the dedication and hard work of their Filipino peers, some of whom have rushed to help in their country’s moment of need, many returning from abroad.
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